By Cliff "Cliffhanger" Dearing
With dreams of even more wealth and becoming a household name for a different reason than he now is, the evasive Osama Bin Laden was lured out of hiding by a seemingly legitimate endorsement offer.
"It seemed like a longshot, but we figured it couldn't hurt to try", one government official was quoted as saying. Posing as an up-and-coming timepiece manufacturer, the United States' Central Intelligence Agency shot out emails to a short list of suspected Osama Bin Laden pseudonyms using the free, Internet-based CaveDweller.com electronic mail hub. With help from Yahoo! and Hotmail, two already-huge mail clients, a plan was hashed out that would seem both authentic and irresistable.
Code-named TIOTE (Time Is Of The Essence) and touted to be the next "big thing" since Rolex, they made an offer that couldn't easily be ignored. Using sympathetic-to-his-cause tactics and promises of plastic surgery and "whatever else it takes", the plan was thrown into action.
The electronic mailings were sent to such account usernames as TurbanCowboy, 72Virgins4Me and HeWentThatWay. Thirty-four in all. The "bait mail" included the name of their first model, R4911 (Revenge For 9-11) and photos of the promotional posters and literature that would be seen by the wealthiest of the wealthy.
"We used high-dollar photo-enhancement technology to zoom in on the watch he currently owns," continued the government agent we'll call Sam, "and made the R4911 appear to be the exact same style and look he apparently likes. We promised this line of fine timepieces to be 'Luxury For The Man On The Move'." They felt it had to be that way because of the seemingly sporty and durable look of the one he is seen wearing in the now-famous photo shown above.
Fingers crossed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the teams just waited. Would the giant team be in three-part harmony? For what seemed to be years, in actuality turning out to be four months and thirteen days, the CIA, Yahoo! and Hotmail waited. Wading through all of the "Unsubscribe" and "Please remove me from your mailing list" emails, it seemed all was going to be for not. At 0915 GMT on the fateful day, it came. The message they had been waiting for had finally come.
"Um......," it began, "is this for real?" The headquarters came to a standstill. You could hear a pin drop in a room with over three hundred souls in it. "Keep reading," some voices shouted, "In the name of all that is Holy, keep reading!!"
"I really could use the money," it continued. "I need a change of clothes like you would not believe! I smell like raw goat which I have been feeding on for eons. Can you make me look like Jay Leno? I really like him." The email was filled with questions and seemingly wit's-end statements.
"That's gotta be him," a woman in the back bellowed. The head analysts read it intensely...many times. "Ladies and gentlemen...we got him," the analysts finally announced. He was using the TurbanCowboy username. Thirtieth on their list and twenty-seventh to reply, they were convinced they finally lured him in....or should that be out?
The analyst in charge of sending out the original email was unanimously voted to continue the correspondence. He slowly pulled his chair up to the keyboard and with beads of sweat pouring off of him, he typed. "Quiet people! I need quiet," he shouted. Again, the room fell silent. He cautiously started typing. "Yes! This is definitely 'for real', Mr. Bin Laden. We have eagerly awaited your reply," it began. "Please come to sign the appropriate contracts and we will hand you your signing bonus right then and there! How does ten million dollars sound right now?"
Fifteen days later, a man in dark sunglasses with a beard braided into six strands and salt and pepper hair in corn rows, came strolling up the sidewalk doing his best impression of the infamous "gangsta limp". He was dressed in what was obviously an altered white robe. He had fashioned it to look like a vest and shorts. All the while he was whistling nervously and trying to fit in by shouting out such things as, "Whatchoo lookin' at?" and "'Sup dawg," while snapping his head up and back. Ten more feet and he would be at "TIOTE's" headquarters. A man in a black business suit waited in the doorway to greet him.
"Good afternoon," Osama said as he reached the man in the suit, "I am looking for a Mister Gotcha....a Mister Howie Gotcha."
"Right this way, Mister Bin....er.....Banister," the man replied, "He's been expecting you. It will be such a pleasant day now that you have arrived."
As if in slow motion, Osama Bin Laden himself was walking through the door, the man in the suit immediately behind. All but four of the over three hundred people were gone now. Two were pretending to do electrical work while another looked to be setting up cameras and lighting.
The fourth man walked up to Osama with one hand holding a sheet of printer paper and one hand in his pocket. "Are you Mister Gotcha?" Osama asked.
"No, Mister Bin Laden. This, "the man handing the printer paper to Osama, "this is How We Gotcha!" On the printer paper? Oh, that was a copy of the original "bait mail".